Nothing thrills little leaguers than when a kid hits a car window with a hit, which probably explains the excitement in Cubs camp yesterday when Javier Baez took batting practice yesterday afternoon.
To cap off a a terrific display of power by the 200 lb, 21 year old shortstop, Baez clubbed a pitch that soared over the forty foot net behind the left field fence and vocally shattered the window of an unsuspecting car.
“Sucks for the person who parked there,” Baez unapoligetically remarked afterward. “They’re parking too close to the field.
Whoever’s car it wase can probably be forgiven for his mistake; the players putting on a show at Cubs camp truthfully look more like little leaguers that major leaguers.
Baez only just became legal to drink, same with fellow middle infielder Arismendy Alcantara, center fielder Albert Almora can’t drink, and quite frankly, looks like he can’t vote, right fielder Jorge Soler is scarcely older, and third baseman Kris Bryant was still studying for final exams less than nine months ago.
Yet these young men who would arguably look just as home at a frat as on a baseball diamond is the future of the Chicago Cubs. They are the most potent collection of young hitters in baseball. Both Baez and Bryant, the second overall pick from last year’s draft, tore up the minors last season thanks to their plus to plus-plus raw power, and were each listed by Baseball America as being among the top 10 prospects in all of baseball.
Soler’s power potential is just below Baez and Bryant’s and while Albert Almora is more of a high speed/high average guy right now, he should be able to crank out twenty round trippers down the road. Both outfielders are incredibly athletic and made BA’s top 50, but both have also struggled with injuries that could bite at their potential.
Alcantara, who broke out at Double-A last season and rounded out BA’s top 100, is an all around hitter who doesn’t excel or struggle in any individual department. He hit 15 bombs in the minors last season and posted an 11% walk rate.
This is a team where the most tenured position player, a four year veteran, is the 23 year old Starlin Castro, who is the same age or younger than 23 of the prospects on BA’s 100. As this crowd of Theo Epstein-assembled youngsters come up, a whole lot more legendary stories of their ability, like Baez’s car-breaking one this morning, are going to propogate.
Should their prospects pan out, the Chicago Cubs could be in a couple seasons for MLB what the Detroit Lions were for the NFL just one or two years ago: young, fast, powerful, sophomoric, jaw dropping, reckless, but most of all, exciting.